If you’re looking for maximum grip, we've found that all- and four-wheel-drive systems provide superior traction in some slippery conditions.
Here’s how the different systems work:
Not all AWD systems are equal. Subaru’s AWD system always directs at least 20-percent of the engine’s power to the rear, and it can direct a larger amount aft if needed. Many other systems fitted to front-wheel-drive vehicles operate with 100 percent of the power normally going to the front wheels; the rear wheels then only receive power only when the front wheels start slipping.
AWD systems are especially helpful in rapidly changing conditions or when driving on a road with intermittent snow and ice. It is commonly used for car-based SUVs, as well as certain cars and minivans. (See our list of best AWD vehicles.)
Aside from serious off-road enthusiasts, most drivers never come close to needing the capability that 4WD systems provide over and above AWD systems.
What do i need?.
Is AWD safer? Not necessarily.
In many cases, having good tires is more important than the drive wheels. Winter tires, for instance, actually do help you turn and stop on a snowy road—things that AWD doesn’t help with.